Regional representatives of the Highlands Initiative have now met in Chattanooga with executives from the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce and Volkswagen for a briefing.
Representing the Highlands were George Halford and Lillian Hartgrove of the Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce; Bob Bell, Tennessee Tech University president and vice chair of Economic Development for the Chamber; Wallace Austin, Sparta-White County Chamber of Commerce president; and Ray Evans, Economic Development director for the Livingston-Overton County Chamber of Commerce.
April Wortham of Volkswagen stressed the importance of registering as a supplier on the Volkswagen of America Inc. Web site. The site is the main tool used to assess potential suppliers. This includes first, second and third tier suppliers. Second and third tier suppliers are chosen by first tier suppliers. Wortham also advised companies to continually be aware of who first tier suppliers are, and to seek them out directly to enhance chances of doing business with them.
"Becoming a supplier to Volkswagen is not just for companies in the automotive industry," said Wortham. "Other companies may have services or products beneficial to Volkswagen. For example, a company making packaging materials on the surface may not appear to be a good fit when in reality they could be. The best advice is to register online and let Volkswagen assess the opportunity."
Blake Poole and the Chattanooga Area Chamber will be scheduling meetings in the Highlands during the coming weeks to share insight into the process of becoming a supplier. The local chambers of commerce will mail invitations to these meetings when the dates and times have been finalized.
"We are impressed with the progress at Enterprise South," said Bob Bell, Tennessee Tech University president. "Tennessee Tech University is looking forward to forging a strong partnership with Volkswagen and its suppliers. Representatives from our College of Engineering and Career Center have already been in meetings with Volkswagen leadership in Chattanooga, and the company has already interviewed the first set of engineering candidates for positions at the company."
"It is difficult to appreciate the magnitude of the project until you are there to see it in person and to hear first hand from those responsible for making it happened," said George Halford, Putnam County Chamber president and CEO. "We appreciate the Chattanooga Area Chamber hosting our visit and providing us with a comprehensive tour and update on Volkswagen, and we are thankful to Ms. Wortham of Volkswagen for taking time to meet with us."